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Lifetime income patterns and alcohol consumption: Investigating the association between long- and short-term income trajectories and drinking


  • Cerdá, Magdalena
  • Johnson-Lawrence, Vicki D.
  • Galea, Sandro


Lifetime patterns of income may be an important driver of alcohol use. In this study, we evaluated the relationship between long-term and short-term measures of income and the relative odds of abstaining, drinking lightly-moderately and drinking heavily. We used data from the US Panel Study on Income Dynamics (PSID), a national population-based cohort that has been followed annually or biannually since 1968. We examined 3111 adult respondents aged 30–44 in 1997. Latent class growth mixture models with a censored normal distribution were used to estimate income trajectories followed by the respondent families from 1968 to 1997, while repeated measures multinomial generalized logit models estimated the odds of abstinence (no drinks per day) or heavy drinking (at least 3 drinks a day), relative to light/moderate drinking (<1–2 drinks a day), in 1999–2003. Lower income was associated with higher odds of abstinence and of heavy drinking, relative to light/moderate drinking. For example, belonging to a household with stable low income ($11–20,000) over 30 years was associated with 1.57 odds of abstinence, and 2.14 odds of heavy drinking in adulthood. The association between lifetime income patterns and alcohol use decreased in magnitude and became non-significant once we controlled for past-year income, education and occupation. Lifetime income patterns may have an indirect association with alcohol use, mediated through current socioeconomic conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Cerdá, Magdalena & Johnson-Lawrence, Vicki D. & Galea, Sandro, 2011. "Lifetime income patterns and alcohol consumption: Investigating the association between long- and short-term income trajectories and drinking," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(8), pages 1178-1185.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:8:p:1178-1185 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.07.025

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hemmingsson, Tomas & Lundberg, Ingvar & Diderichsen, Finn, 1999. "The roles of social class of origin, achieved social class and intergenerational social mobility in explaining social-class inequalities in alcoholism among young men," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 1051-1059, October.
    2. Mossakowski, Krysia N., 2008. "Is the duration of poverty and unemployment a risk factor for heavy drinking?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(6), pages 947-955, September.
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    4. Maria del Carmen Huerta & Francesca Borgonovi, 2010. "Education, Alcohol Use and Abuse Among Young Adults in Britain," OECD Education Working Papers 50, OECD Publishing.
    5. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:7:1151-1157_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Nicolas Ziebarth & Markus Grabka, 2009. "In Vino Pecunia? The Association Between Beverage-Specific Drinking Behavior and Wages," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 219-244, September.
    7. Do, D. Phuong, 2009. "The dynamics of income and neighborhood context for population health: Do long-term measures of socioeconomic status explain more of the black/white health disparity than single-point-in-time measures," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(8), pages 1368-1375, April.
    8. Benzeval, Michaela & Judge, Ken, 2001. "Income and health: the time dimension," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(9), pages 1371-1390, May.
    9. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1997:87:9:1476-1483_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Huerta, Maria C. & Borgonovi, Francesca, 2010. "Education, alcohol use and abuse among young adults in Britain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 143-151, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eugenio J. Miravete & Katja Seim & Jeff Thurk, 2017. "One Markup to Rule Them All: Taxation by Liquor Pricing Regulation," NBER Working Papers 24124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hu, Xiaowen & Stowe, C. Jill, 2013. "The Effect of Income on Health Choices: Alcohol Use," 2013 Annual Meeting, February 2-5, 2013, Orlando, Florida 143060, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.


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